Erishum I

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Erišu(m) I (inscribed me-ri-šu, or mAPIN-ìš in later texts but always with an initial i in his own seal, inscriptions, and those of his immediate successors,[1]:40 “he has desired,”[2]) son of Ilu-šuma, was the ruler of Assyria ca. 1905-1867 BC (short chronology) or 1974–1935 BC (middle chronology),[nb 1] the 33rd to appear on the Assyrian kinglist and reigned for 40 years.[i 1] He titled himself: "Aššur is king, Erišum is vice-regent"[nb 2] and Išši’ak Aššurki, “governor of Assyria,” at a time when the small city state seems to have been controlled by an oligarchy of the patriarchs of the prominent families and subject to the “judgment of the city,” or dīn alim. The most significant event of his reign was the establishment of distant trading posts, kārum, in central Anatolia, the best known being that located at Kültepe, ancient Kaneš, as the city’s merchant family firms vigorously pursued commercial expansion.


One of two copies of the Assyrian Kinglist[i 2] which include him gives his reign length as only 30 years,[3] but this contrasts with a complete list of his eponyms, some 40, which are extant from tablets[i 3] recovered at Kültepe.[1]:3–5 These were discovered in 1948 with three other similar though fragmentary lists and two copies of an inscription of Erišum detailing the regulations concerning the administration of justice in Aššur, including the possibility of bona fide plaintiffs to obtain an attorney (rābiṣum) to represent them:

The one who talks too much in the Step Gate, the demon of ruins will seize his mouth and his hindquarters; he will smash his head like a shattered pot; he will fall like a broken reed and water will flow from his mouth. The one who talks too much in the Step Gate, his house will become a house of ruin. He who rises to give false testimony, may the [Seven] Judges who decide legal cases in [the Step Gate, give a false] decision [against him]; [may Aššur], Adad, and Bel, [my god, pluck his seed]; a place […] may they not give to him.

[The one who…] … obeys me, [when he goes] to the Step Gate, [may] the palace deputy [assist him]; [may he send] the witnesses and plaintiff (to the court); [may] the judges [take the bench] and give a proper decision [in Ašš]ur.[4]:13

— Inscription of Êrišum I[i 4]

According to Veenhof, Erišum’s reign marks the period when the institution of the annually appointed limmum, or eponym, was introduced. The Assyrian Kinglist observes of his immediate predecessors, “in all six kings [known from] bricks, whose eponyms have not been marked/found.”[5] Following the example set by his father, he proclaimed tax exemptions, or as Michael Hudson has interpreted: "I proclaimed a remission of debts payable in silver, gold, copper, tin, barley, wool, down to chaff." This appears in an inscription on one side of a large broken block of alabaster,[i 5] apparently described as a ṭuppu. The shallow depression on its top has led some to identify it as a door socket.[6]

It was during his reign that kārums were established along trade routes into Anatolia in the lower city of Kaneš (Kültepe), and others were to follow in Amkuwa (Alisar Höyük), Ḫattuša (Boğazköy) and eighteen other locations yet to be identified, some designated warbatums, satellites of and subordinate to the kārums. Around 23,000 tablets have been found at Kaneš spanning a period of 129 years from the 30th year of Erišum’s reign through to that of Puzur-Aššur II or possibly Narām-Sîn with the earliest from level II including copies of his inscriptions. The markets traded tin (inscribed AN.NA, Akkadian: annukum), textiles, lapis lazuli, iron, antimony, copper, bronze, wool, and grain for gold and silver.

His numerous contemporary inscriptions commemorate his building of the temple for Aššur, called “Wild Bull,” with its courtyard (cattle pen?) and two beer vats and the accompanying curses to those who would use them for their intended purposes. His efforts were recalled by the later kings Šamši-Adad I, in his rebuilding dedication,[4]:20 and Šulmanu-ašared I, who noted that 159 years had passed between Erišum’s work and that of Šamši-Adad, and a further 580 years until his own when a fire had gutted it.[4]:84–85 He had exercised eminent domain to clear an area from the Sheep Gate to the People’s Gate to make way for an enlargement of the city wall, so that he could boast that “I made a wall higher than the wall my father had constructed.”[4]:11 Erišum’s other civic constructions included the temple of Ištar and that of Adad.

Limmu officials by year[edit]

The annual eponym officials from the first full year of his reign until the year of his death are given with the middle chronology year.[1]:6–10

1974 Šu-Ištar, son of Abila
1973 Šukutum, son of Išuhum
1972 Iddin-ilum, son of Kurub-Ištar
1971 Šu-Anim, son of Isalia
1970 Anah-ili, son of Kiki
1969 Suitaya, son of Ir'ibum
1968 Daya, son of Išuhum
1967 Ili-ellat
1966 Šamaš-t.ab
1965 Agusa
1964 Idnaya, son of Šudaya
1963 Quqadum, son of Buzu
1962 Puzur-Ištar, son of Bedaki
1961 Laqip, son of Bab-idi
1960 Šu-Laban, son of Kurub-Ištar
1959 Šu-Belum, son of Išuhum
1958 Nab-Suen, son of Šu-Ištar
1957 Hadaya, son of Elali
1956 Ennum-Aššur, son of Begaya
1955 Ikunum, son of Šudaya
1954 Is.mid-ili, son of Idida
1953 Buzutaya, son of Išuhum
1952 Šu-Ištar, son of Amaya
1951 Iddin-Aššur, son of the priest
1950 Puzur-Aššur, the ghee maker
1949 Quqadum, son of Buzu
1948 Ibni-Adad, son of Susaya
1947 Irišum, son of Adad-rabi
1946 Minanum, son of Begaya
1945 Iddin-Suen, son of Šalim-ahum
1944 Puzur-Aššur, son of Idnaya
1943 Šuli, son of Uphakum
1942 Laqip, son of Zukua
1941 Puzur-Ištar, son of Erisua
1940 Aguwa, son of Adad-rabi
1939 Šu-Suen, son of S.illia
1938 Ennum-Aššur, son of Begaya
1937 Enna-Suen, son of Pussanum
1936 Ennanum, son of Uphakum
1935 Buzi, son of Adad-rabi


  1. ^ Khorsabad kinglist.
  2. ^ SDAS Kinglist: [mE-ri-š] u DUMU mDINGIR-šum-ma, [šá li-ma-ni? -šu-ni 10] + 30 MU.MEŠ LUGAL-ta-uš.
  3. ^ KEL A (kt 92/k 193), at CDLI.
  4. ^ Tablet copies: An 201139 and An 20114.
  5. ^ BM 115689, Ass. 16850.


  1. ^ Some historians quote ca. 1939–1900 BC (after Amélie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East, C. 3000-330 BC, Volume 1, Routledge, 1996, p. 82).
  2. ^ da-šùr LUGAL i-ri-šu-um PA.


  1. ^ a b c K. R. Veenhof (2003). The Old Assyrian List of Year Eponyms from Karum Kanish and its Chronological Implications. Turkish Historical Society. pp. 40, 3–10. 
  2. ^ E. Frahm (1998). K. Radner, ed. The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Volume 1, Part II: A. The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project. p. 404. 
  3. ^ I. J. Gelb (1954). "Two Assyrian King Lists". Journal of Near East Studies VIII (4): 213. 
  4. ^ a b c d A. K. Grayson (1972). Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, Volume 1. Otto Harrassowitz. pp. 8–15, 20, 84–85. 
  5. ^ Klaas R. Veenhof, Jesper Eidem (2008). Mesopotamia: the Old Assyrian period. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 29. 
  6. ^ J. E. Reade (2001). "A monument of Erišum I from Aššur". Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 94 (2): 177–178. doi:10.3917/assy.094.0177. 

Preceded by
King of Assyria
1905–1867 BC
Succeeded by